Ohio State ex-band director denied access to trustee records

AP News
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Posted: May 29, 2015 2:15 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Fired Ohio State University marching band director Jonathan Waters can't have broad access to trustees' records that he had argued might help prove his gender discrimination case, a federal judge ruled Friday.

District Judge James Graham issued the decision after a telephone conference with attorneys in Waters' civil rights case.

Waters was fired in July after an internal investigation concluded he ignored a "sexualized culture" of raunchy, profane and suggestive rituals within the celebrated band, known to fans as The Best Damn Band in the Land. Waters has denied the charges. He is pursuing separate discrimination and defamation lawsuits seeking reinstatement and $1 million in damages.

Waters recently alleged in the discrimination case that trustees were directly involved in his dismissal, making their actions against other employees throughout the vast university legally fair game. A decision in his favor could have shed light on the nearly impenetrable decision-making processes of the board.

In making the request, Waters cited a consoling letter written to his parents by Richard Blatti, director of the university's School of Music. The letter, written after the firing, included a reference to the board's alleged involvement. Blatti has since distanced himself from Waters' claims.

University attorneys argued to Graham during an earlier hearing on the matter that enveloping the board of trustees in the Waters case would be unfair, time-consuming and ultimately irrelevant.

Ohio State, one of the nation's largest universities, hired Waters as band director in 2012. He revolutionized the halftime shows, drawing hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube and landing the troupe in an Apple commercial.

He has said fallout from the firing has made it virtually impossible for him to get another marching band job.